Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories

Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories

Celebrated for her award-winning political columns, criticism, and poetry, Katha Pollitt now shows us another side of her talent. Learning to Drive is a surprising, revealing, and entertaining collection of stories drawn from the author's own life.With deep feeling and sharp insight, Pollitt writes about the death of her father; the sad but noble final days of a leftist st...

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Title:Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories
Author:Katha Pollitt
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Edition Language:English

Learning to Drive: And Other Life Stories Reviews

  • Julie Ehlers

    This didn't blow my mind or anything, but so much about it was so wonderful that I think it deserves five stars.

  • Carrie Poppy

    Loved

  • Lee Klein

    Wifey and I went to see "Learning to Drive" a few days ago and loved it -- highly recommended for the acting, narrative economy, and sustained yet never manipulative emotional burn from beginning to end. Afterwards at a bookstore, wife bought a used copy of these "life stories" and I grabbed them. The first two appeared in the New Yorker and are New Yorker quality --

    . The rest fall off, although the language is always worthy of prestigious magazine publication. There's an

    Wifey and I went to see "Learning to Drive" a few days ago and loved it -- highly recommended for the acting, narrative economy, and sustained yet never manipulative emotional burn from beginning to end. Afterwards at a bookstore, wife bought a used copy of these "life stories" and I grabbed them. The first two appeared in the New Yorker and are New Yorker quality --

    . The rest fall off, although the language is always worthy of prestigious magazine publication. There's an annoying superficiality to a lot of this wrapped in urbane upper-west-side cultural insiderness. She generalizes hatefully/idiotically about Men with a capital M (as though such a reduction of the complexity of humanity exists), seems to revel in her presentation of herself as a horrible person, and then wonders why all these men leave her. Vaguely interesting stuff early on about the internet and later on about letting herself go, but the Marxist and feminist talk throughout seemed put on, like she's an uptown NYC artist intellectual of a certain age embedded in an certain culture whose interest in such things is more accoutrement than activism. Formally fulfilling but ultimately shallow in content.

  • Sarah

    A surprisingly disappointing Katha Pollitt book. The essays about her communist, FBI-pursued parents were by far the most interesting. If I had to read one more word about her philandering ex-boyfriend, and all the women he slept with while they were together, I would have burned the book -- even though it's a library copy. She should stick to cultural and political criticism and stay away from memoirs as long as she lives.

  • Terry

    You'd think (if you know me at all) this book would be right up my alley. YES, the writing is brilliant. And yes, I do love the world of old-school feminists and Marxists and shabby New York intellectuals (intelligentsia) etc etc etc. But I heaved a lot of sighs over her going on and on and ON about her ex-boyfriend and his mistresses. Possibly ageist of me, and I hate to admit it; I was distressed over her websurfing, stalking old lovers and imagining their new lives with their new wives. It se

    You'd think (if you know me at all) this book would be right up my alley. YES, the writing is brilliant. And yes, I do love the world of old-school feminists and Marxists and shabby New York intellectuals (intelligentsia) etc etc etc. But I heaved a lot of sighs over her going on and on and ON about her ex-boyfriend and his mistresses. Possibly ageist of me, and I hate to admit it; I was distressed over her websurfing, stalking old lovers and imagining their new lives with their new wives. It seemed....unseemly. (Perhaps I did squirm uncomfortably because who among us hasn't wanted to be a fly on the wall of certain people in [or especially out] of our lives and try to discern a signal about their happiness or unhappiness through their color scheme or sofa choice..? Er, maybe that's just me.) But I expected more from someone of Pollitt's intellectual and political stature.

  • Delta

    I was terribly unsatisfied with this collection of essay. While Pollitt is undoubtedly an excellent writer, she comes across as highly elitist. I had a really difficult time getting through several essays, especially the one in which she webstalks her ex and his lovers. I really didn't enjoy the book but I have to give her credit for her writing.

    **I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.**

  • Theresa

    Maybe it's better as a major motion picture.

  • Sarah-Katharine Owen

    This book bored me to death! Usually I prefer the book over the film, but in this case, the film was a million times better. The film is funny and highly entertaining!

  • Tatiana

    Whether Katha Pollitt agrees with me or not, I came to see the above line as the thesis statement of

    , a collection of essays from the feminist critic on topics ranging from destruction of green space to Botox. Yes, Pollitt lost her adulterous, sneaky, egotistical husband, and what was her response?

    "I'm going to be a little obsessed for awhile."

    Obsessed, indeed. Webstalking, tracking down her ex's mistresses(????), and as the title promise

    Whether Katha Pollitt agrees with me or not, I came to see the above line as the thesis statement of

    , a collection of essays from the feminist critic on topics ranging from destruction of green space to Botox. Yes, Pollitt lost her adulterous, sneaky, egotistical husband, and what was her response?

    "I'm going to be a little obsessed for awhile."

    Obsessed, indeed. Webstalking, tracking down her ex's mistresses(????), and as the title promises, finally learning to drive a car. "Beautiful Screamer" was perhaps the most relevant essay, detailing the author's entrance into motherhood, yet that still upheld an elitist barrier.

    Too often, critics feel that if they analyze the heck out of something--and show a little self-deprecation in the process--it gains worth. But analysis without revelation, or even enlightenment, is glorified internal monologue, the pages of a personal journal turned out on the world.

    "Almost everything is evidence of something," the Supreme Court passed down in a case tried by Pollitt's father, a known communist lawyer. There was a lot of evidence in this memoir, a lot of pontificating and bleeding, but that 'something' to which the strife gives meaning is illusive.

    It is that dearth of focus that derails the collection. In the title essay, Pollitt was accused by her driving instructor of lacking observation skills. Not an ideal deficiency for a literary critic! And ultimately her downfall in several walks of life.

    If she had noticed her mother's alcoholism....

    If she had noticed her husband's decades of affairs....

    If she had noticed the goldmine in her parents' FBI files beyond two, frustratingly condensed essays...

    Then again, what would she have had to write about if she had?

  • Julie M

    This was recommended by a Loft instructor whom I met at a HCLib class in Oct. 2017.

    Memoir writing style was okay, but I was just not interested inKatha Pollitt's observations and feelings about her personal life. New Yorker, self absorbed (well it IS a memoir) and relationship-dependent. I slogged through it and found a couple of her stories/chapters insightful and a bit amusing, like the title piece. Overall, just not my cup o' joe.

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